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WCS students celebrate science

WORTHINGTON -- While no one asked the meaning of life, students at Worthington Christian School did find answers to many of life's burning questions at the school's first-ever science fair Friday.

"It really gets the kids excited about science, because science is experiments," said Donna Vander Kooi, third- and fourth-grade teacher at WCS.

Some projects answered strictly practical questions -- which brand of microwave popcorn produces the fewest unpopped kernels, or which kind of gum will produce the biggest bubble.

Other science project questions seemed motivated out of raw curiosity -- what is the pH of soda pop? Why does hydrogen peroxide bubble? What does air pressure have to do with how far a ball bounces?

Every grade level except kindergarten participated in the science fair, some producing individual projects and others working with older siblings.

The first- and second-graders collaborated on a single display about liquid density, each creating a mini-lava lamp from a water bottle and brightly colored oil and water.

"Density means water's heavy and oil isn't," said second-grader Anneke Weg. "Honey is the most dense (of the liquids tested)."

Her classmate Austin Metz said he learned that oil and water don't mix with each other through the project.

Another objective of the science fair was to teach students to plan out a project and see it through the end, Vander Kooi said. Much of the students' work was independent, and though Vander Kooi offered them a list of project ideas, they chose their own projects, came up with a question to answer and made a hypothesis about what the answer might be.

Fourth-grader Nathan Russ chose his project about what music does to blood pressure from a list of suggestions.

"I always listen to music, so I figured I could try it," Russ said. "I learned that rock (made) my blood pressure the highest."

Russ served as his own subject, listening to music for two minutes and then taking his blood pressure. He tried rock music, gospel music and country music, and took his blood pressure without music as a baseline comparison.

Russ tried each type of music three times apiece and averaged the blood pressure readings to get a more accurate test.

"It was pretty fun, but boring because you just kind of had to lay back on the couch and relax," Russ admitted.

Fourth-grader Cody Gravenhof wondered why hydrogen peroxide bubbled, and found that adding yeast would make the hydrogen peroxide bubble because it was releasing oxygen.

Jacob Weg measured a catapult's force after building a tiny version using popsicle sticks and clothespins.

Sixth-grader Ashley Jansma wondered what kind of bubble gum's flavor lasted longest, and found that Extra beat out Bubblicious and Dubble Bubble.

Results from the science fair are as follows:

Fifth grade: First place: Brighid Hegarty and Morgan Metz. Second place: Sam Talsma. Third place: Summer Rogers.

Sixth grade: First place: Paige Gravenhof and Ashley Jansma. Second place: Ryen Bosma. Third place: Jacob Weg.

Seventh grade: First place: Dalton Kruse, Dylan Gravenhof and Kaleb Schelhaas. Second place: Gabe VanderVeen. Third place: Josh Vander Veen.

Eighth grade: First place: Haley Gravenhof. Second place: Hanna Bosma. Third place: Keeran Sampson and Jonah Oberloh.